This week’s readings discuss indicators that contribute to reduction of mortality in populations. These indicators include healthcare, economics (socioeconomic conditions), and education. When countries are able to address these indicators in a proactive manner, they are helping to ensure positive growth for the current population and also for the future populations to come. The majority of the readings focus on poor countries (Caldwell, 1986; Kuhn, 2010; Garenne, 2006) while Elo (2009) shifts the focus to the indicators regardless of country status. Zhao (2006) applies the discussion of poor countries and overarching determinant predicting indicators to China and shows how transformation in these indicators can shape the very essence of a population in enormous ways (due to the effect of socioeconomic factors on economic outcomes). These indicators continue to guide questions and policy for populations around the world.
Common or Conflicting Themes
Common themes in the readings include addressing the indicators in order to have positive outcome changes across wide ranges of populations and answering the question “Where do we go from here?” The indicators are addressed in order to raise awareness to populations that are in dire need of assistance with the change and to populations that are making/have made the change as a result of their own internal vigilance (Caldwell, 1986; Kuhn, 2010; Garenne, 2006; Zhao, 2006). One of the main indicators that the readings discuss is health specifically health disparities/inequalities that some countries are addressing through education(Caldwell, 1986; Kuhn, 2010; Elo, 2009; Zhao, 2006) and others are addressing through overall public health policies(Garenne, 2006). It is easily understood that when health disparities/inequalities are acknowledged by governments(along with allied partner countries) and action is added to the equation, transformative and long lasting change is made that positively effects all populations(Caldwell, 1986;Kuhn, 2010; Garenne, 2006; Zhao, 2006).
The readings also address the impact of income, economic health, and socioeconomic levels on not only the mortality levels of populations but on the overall health of populations over time (Caldwell, 1986; Kuhn, 2010; Garenne, 2006; Elo, 2009; Zhao, 2006). When there is a lack of income (i.e. poor countries), there is a direct link to lack of healthcare and as a result higher mortality rates. Several of the readings mention the effect of HIV/AIDS on populations. If a huge portion of a population is low income, the population will likely be at the whim of others (governmental programs, humanitarian organizations, goodwill campaigns) in order to receive needed treatment and care. As a result, the population will not necessarily have the wherewithal to be proactive about care and symptom reduction/management unless a human or economic force is able to step in to build a bridge to access and optimal care available. When speaking of specific populations that are exponentially negatively impacted by HIV/AIDS, Garenne (2006) and Kuhn (2010) both allude to the difficulty of answering the question “How/Why does this continue to happen and where do we look next?” When describing the impact of HIV/AIDS in certain regions of Africa, both authors mention the complexity of the region and other factors that contribute to the degree of need that is seen. This indicates that there is a continued need for research and holistic changes in order for long range change to be seen in certain populations. The need for wealthier populations to increase their effort to assist poor populations is also discussed (Caldwell, 1986; Kuhn, 2010; Garenne, 2006; Zhao, 2006).
All of the readings highlight the role of education not only on mortality improvements but in other indicators such as health in regard to the impact on overall mortality levels (Caldwell, 1986; Kuhn, 2010; Garenne, 2006; Elo, 2009; Zhao, 2006). When looking at education, it is only when the gaps left by educational inequality are addressed and filled through government and other alliance efforts, can we begin to see sustainable long term transformations throughout populations. It brings to mind the public service announcement that states “The more you know”. This is also one of the reasons why researchers seek new questions to answer. Increased knowledge leads to an increase and variety of higher level thinking skills. This helps to impact our own studies by informing the kinds of questions we ask and also the kinds of answers that we are able to provide. This is also one reason why we are asked to make our findings and explanations clear so that the information we provide can be easily understood to those who are in search of it. The ease of understanding also helps to facilitate conversations between various groups and subject areas (demography, economics, education, public health, etc.).
Critique of the arguments, methods, and interpretation
The readings emphasized the need to look at the indicators of a population when discussing mortality. Caldwell (1986) also indicated the need to change our focus in how our continued conversation of mortality is guided. He describes various areas of populations that when addressed have long term impact (the education of girls and women, the position of women in a society, level of political activity). Elo (2009) mentions that mortality indicators need to be looked at in relation to population as a whole versus looking at them in isolation (similar to Soares discussion).
The readings mentioned factors that hindered data collection (specifically in the case of certain poor countries and lack of consistent record collection). Garenne (2009) used surveys to collect data and also utilized the Logit model on the various populations mentioned. This allowed for graphical and statistical capture of the specific points needed in order to see the mortality trends.
1. What do the mortality trends of poor countries indicate about the growth of poor regions?
2. What other indicators can factor into the mortality trend of a population?
3. Do wealthier populations have a response to the struggles faced by poor countries due to their wealth or do they not have a responsibility?